Friday, September 27, 2019

Long trips, games, and maps

The Peach water tower in Gaffney, SC
The 52 Ancestors theme this week is “map it out.”

Long before cars had built-in DVD players and the ability to watch movies, parents had to figure out a way to entertain their children when taking road trips. For many years, my family made two long road trips a year—the first to Daytona Beach, Florida and the second to Atlanta, Georgia. The Daytona trip took 13 hours and the Atlanta trip took 11. Heading to Daytona, we left home Friday morning, stopping for the night just outside of Savannah, Georgia. We’d arrive in Daytona on Saturday in time to have lunch before the mid-afternoon check-in time. The following Saturday, we’d pack the car on Friday night and leave as the sun came up, driving all the way home to Virginia in one day. The following Friday, we headed to Atlanta. In the early days, we drove straight through, but eventually stopped somewhere in North Carolina and spent the night, finishing the trip the following morning. The trip home was always completed in one day.

To entertain the boys, I gathered coloring books, printed a list of the 50 states for the license plate game, word searches, puzzles, etc. I created a scavenger hunt of things I knew we’d see along the way—like the big peach in South Carolina and Pedro and all the South of the Border signs going through North and South Carolina. Once they got old enough, I gave them a map and a highlighter and showed them how to map out the trip as we drove along. I’d have them find different cities as we traveled through them. That only last for a few years though. Once we bought Game Boys and a portable TV and VCR for the van they lost interest in everything else.

I recently cleaned out a closet and came across my bag of games. It brought back fond memories of those trips. I asked my sons if they remembered the games and maps. Both of them remember the games but not the maps. My youngest son Kevin remembers playing the license plate game. He and Chris were always in the backseat wearing headphones. Kevin said when I drove, he knew to look at the passing cars when I tapped my husband on the arm. He said it was a dead giveaway that a car with a different state was passing by. I never knew that until he told me. I wondered how he always got so many states!


  1. Many thanks for your post! Reading it has brought back great memories of long car trips but in my case they were usually to a beach in Australia for the December/January summer holidays. My brother and I played the number plate game too.